Another Unique Place to Visit in Turkey: Aphrodisias


“Imagine coming upon a city of antiquity so rich in archeological treasure that choice sculptures roll off the sides of ditches, tumble from old walls, and lie jam-packed amid colonnaded ruins.” Those are the words of Turkish archeologist Professor Kenan Erim who directed the excavations at Aphrodisias under the auspices of the New YorkUniversity. He is so closely associated with the site that he can suitably be accepted as the father of Aphrodisias and therefore fully deserved to be buried near the Tetrapylon.


The name of the city has the same root as “aphrodisiac”. Both words derive from the Greek name for the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodisias was one of several ancient cities dedicated to the goddess of love. Within the borders of Caria, during the Roman period, Aphrodisias became an artistic center with a famous school of sculpture.


The site has been systematically excavated since 1961 by professor Kenan Erim and has yielded a wealth of art treasures to archaeologists.







If you have only one day in Istanbul


İstanbul is one of the most historical and beautiful cities in the world. Throughout history It was the capital city of the three great empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. There are so many nice things to see in addition to so many nice things to do. One or two days in İstanbul would never be enough but it is a good start.

Let’s say you are going to İstanbul with a cruise ship and you have only one day in İstanbul for a shore excursion. What should you do if you have only one day for city sightseeing or a one-day tour in İstanbul? You can join an organized tour or hire a private tour guide for a private tour of the city for your limited time. Your organized tour will save you a lot of time or your private tourist guide will be able to tailor the program according to your pacing and interests.

Old City, Istanbul

Here is the list of highlights in İstanbul if you are there just for one day:

-Ancient Hippodrome

-Blue Mosque – Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

-Hagia Sophia – Ayasofya – St. Sophia Church

-Topkapi Palace Museum – Topkapı Sarayı

-Grand Bazaar – Covered Bazaar – Kapalı Çarşı


The Hippodrome was a stadium type building which was built for chariot races in the Roman period (second century) by Septimus Severus. Constantine the Great reconstructed, enlarged, and adorned it with beautiful works brought from different parts of the Roman Empire when he chose Byzantium as his new capital.


Although there is not much left of the original building except the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine, and Constantine Columns, according to the excavations carried out, the Hippodrome was 117 m / 384 ft wide and 480 m / 1575 ft long with a capacity of 30,000 to 100,000 spectators. It is said that one quarter of the population could fit into the Hippodrome at one time.

Chariots drawn by 2 or 4 horses raced here, representing the factions among the people: The Blues and the Greens. The Blues were the upper and middle classes, orthodox in religion and conservative in politics. The Greens were the lower class and radical both in religion and politics.

The remaining monuments from the Hippodrome are as follows:

The Egyptian Obelisk (Dikilitaş)

Dikilitaş was originally one of the two obelisks which were erected in the name of Thutmose III in front of Amon-Ra Temple in Karnak in the 15C BC. The Roman governor of Alexandria sent it to Theodosius I in 390 AD. The obelisk is situated on a Byzantine marble base with bas-reliefs that give some details about the emperor from the Kathisma and the races of the time. The Emperor Theodosius I, depicted on four sides of the obelisk, is watching the erection of it, watching a chariot race, receiving homage from slaves, and preparing a wreath for the winner of the race.

The Serpentine Column (Burma Sütun)

After defeating the Persians at the battles of Salamis (480 BC) and Plataea (479 BC), the 31 Greek cities, by melting all the spoils that they obtained, made a huge bronze incense burner with three entwined serpents to be erected in front of the Apollo Temple in Delphi. This column was brought here from Delphi by Constantine I in 4C AD.

The Constantine Column (Örme Sütun)

Unlike the Egyptian Obelisk, this is not a monolith but a column built of stones. Who erected it and when it was built are not known. According to the inscriptions, it was renovated and restored to have a more beautiful appearance by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus and his son Romanus II in the 10C AD. The original column would have been from the 4C or 5C AD.

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

Turkish people call it the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. However, visitors fascinated with the beautiful blue tiles always remember it as the Blue Mosque. It was built by Sultan Ahmed I as a part of a large complex. The complex consisted of a mosque, tombs, fountains, a health center, kitchens, shops, a bath, rooms, houses and storehouses.

Blue Mosque

Being close to the Topkapı Palace, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, for many years, was regarded as the Supreme Imperial Mosque in İstanbul. Even at the times when the palace was left and the sultan moved to the Dolmabahçe Palace, Sultan Ahmet Mosque shared this honor with the Süleymaniye.

The architect was one of the apprentices of Sinan, Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa. He designed one of the last examples of the classical period’s architectural style. The mosque is situated in a wide courtyard that has five gates. There is an inner courtyard next to the mosque with three entrances. The inner courtyard is surrounded by porticos consisting of 26 columns and 30 domes.

Interior of the Blue Mosque

The interior of the mosque is a square with a width of 51.65 m / 170 ft and a length of 53.40 m / 175 ft covered by a dome. The main dome rests on four semi-arches and four pendentives. There are 260 windows that no longer have the original stained glass. The walls all along the galleries are covered with 21 thousand 17C İznik tiles having many flower motifs in a dominant blue color.

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

The Hagia Sophia was probably the largest building on the world’s surface, barring the Egyptian Pyramids, or the Great Wall of China. For many centuries it was the largest church.

It was dedicated to the Hagia Sophia that means the Divine Wisdom, an attribute of Christ.

Hagia Sophia

Today’s Hagia Sophia is the third building built in the same place. The first one was a basilica with a wooden roof and was built in 390 AD. This original church Megale Ecclesia (Great Church) was burned down in a rumpus in 404. Theodosius replaced it with a massive basilica that was burned down in the Nika Revolt against Justinian in 532. Justinian began rebuilding the Hagia Sophia in the same year. The architects were two Anatolian geniuses, Anthemius of Tralles, an engineer and a mathematician and Isidorus of Miletus, an architect. They started collecting materials from all over the empire. In the construction ten thousand workers worked under the supervision of one hundred master builders.

Justinian reopened it in 537, entering the Hagia Sophia with the words “Solomon, I have surpassed you!”

Throughout Byzantine history, the Hagia Sophia played an important role as emperors were crowned and various victories were celebrated in this remarkable building. The Hagia Sophia even gave refuge to criminals.

After conquering Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmet immediately went to the Hagia Sophia and ordered that it be converted into a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was used as a church for 916 years and as a mosque for 481 years. In 1934, by the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it was made a museum and has since been open to visitors.


The Hagia Sophia has a classical basilica plan and the main ground plan of the building is a rectangle, 70 m / 230 ft in width and 75 m / 246 ft in length. The central space of the Hagia Sophia is divided on both sides from the side aisles by four big piers and 107 columns (40 downstairs, 67 upstairs) between them. The space is covered with a huge dome which is 55.60 m / 182 ft high. The dome, due to earthquakes and restorations, is slightly elliptical with a diameter of 31.20 m / 102 ft on one axis and 32.80 m / 107.60 ft on the other.


Most of the mosaics are from the times after the iconoclastic period. In the inner narthex above the main entrance, also called the Imperial Gate, there is a 10th century mosaic depicting Jesus as the omnipotent ruler, seated upon a jeweled throne, dressed as an emperor, and making a gesture of blessing with his right hand. In his left hand he is holding a book inscribed with these words: “Peace unto you; I am the light of the world.” On both sides of Jesus Christ are two medallions, the Virgin Mary on the left and an angel with a staff on the right. Emperor Leo VI is depicted kneeling in front of Jesus.

Hagia Sophia Deesis Mosaic in the Gallery

Above the main apse is the mosaic depicting the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus. She is sitting on a bench with her feet resting on a stool. Her right hand is on her son’s shoulder and her left upon his knee. Jesus is raising his right hand in blessing and holding a scroll in his left hand.

In the galleries is the 13th century mosaic panel of the Deesis scene: Jesus as the omnipotent ruler flanked by the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist who are shown interceding with him on behalf of mankind.

At the far end of the last bay in the south gallery is a mosaic showing Christ enthroned with his right hand in the gesture of benediction and the book of Gospels in his left hand. On the left is the figure of the 11th century Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus offering a moneybag and Empress Zoë holding a scroll on the right. The emperor’s face in the mosaic was changed each time Zoë changed her husband. Constantine IX was Zoë’s third husband.

To the right of the mosaic of Zoë there is a 12th century mosaic showing the Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus flanked by Emperor John II Comnenus offering a bag of gold and red-haired Empress Eirene holding a scroll. At the extension of the mosaic on the sidewall is the figure of Prince Alexius.

At the end of the inner narthex, before going out to the courtyard (today’s exit) stands the 10th century beautiful mosaic: The Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus in her lap, on one side Emperor Constantine offering a small model of the city as he is accepted as the founder, on the other side Emperor Justinian offering the model of the Hagia Sophia as the emperor who had it built.

Topkapı Palace Museum (Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi)

The Topkapı Sarayı was the Ottomans’ second palace in İstanbul. The construction of the Topkapı Palace, including the walls, was completed between 1459 and 1478. As different sultans ascended to the throne, each added a new part to the palace. These now represent for us the different architectural tastes and styles of four centuries. The changes were made for reasons of practicality, to commemorate victorious campaigns, or to repair damage caused by earthquakes and fire.

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapı Palace was never static but was always in the process of organic development, influenced by the times. The first of these influences was the parallelism between the palace and the empire. As the empire became larger, the palace was likewise enlarged. The second is that as the sultans felt insecure and withdrew themselves behind walls and removed themselves from nature, there was an attempt to bring nature inside the walls in the form of miniatures, tiles and suchlike. If late Ottoman period palaces are excluded, only the Topkapı Palace survived from the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire, which implies that palaces for the Ottomans were something different than the ones we know today. There is a kind of humble simplicity and practicality in the Ottoman palaces. The Topkapı Sarayı was a city-palace with a population of approximately 4,000 people. It covers an area of 70 hectares / 173 acres. It housed all the Ottoman sultans from Sultan Mehmet II to Abdülmecit, for nearly 400 years and 25 Sultans. In 1924 it was made into a museum.

The palace was mainly divided into two sections, Birun and Enderun. There are four consecutive courtyards of the palace; the first two are Birun, the outer palace, and the second two are Enderun, the inner palace, with the Harem.

The first courtyard that was open to the public was entered through the Bab-ı Humayun (Imperial Gate). This was the service area of the palace consisting of a hospital (with a capacity of 120 beds), a bakery, an arsenal, the mint, storage places for various things and some dormitories. This courtyard acted something like a city center.

The second courtyard, also called Divan Meydanı (Divan Square), which started after the Bab-üs Selam (Gate of Salutation), was the seat of the Divan (Imperial Council Hall) and open to anyone who had business with the Divan. This was the administration center.

In addition to the Divan there were also the privy stables and kitchens. The kitchens consist of a series of ten large rooms with domes and dome-like chimneys. In these kitchens in those times they cooked for about 4,000 people. The kitchens were used separately for different people, because different dishes for different classes had to be prepared.

In the kitchens today, a collection of Chinese Porcelain which are considered the third most valuable in the world, are on display, together with authentic kitchen utensils and Turkish and Japanese Porcelain.

Just before entering the third courtyard, in front of the third gate, the Bab-üs Saade (Gate of Felicity) or the Akağalar (White Eunuchs) Gate is the place where the golden throne was placed for all kinds of occasions, such as coronation ceremonies and religious holidays. Payment of the Yeniçeri salaries took place there also, as well as the funerals of sultans or handing over of the sancak, the standard or the flag of the Prophet Mohammed by the sultan.

The Enderun, inner palace, started at the Bab-üs Saade and was surrounded by the quarters of the inner palace boys who were in service to the sultan and the palace. The first building after entering into the third courtyard is Arz Odası, the Audience Hall. Many important ceremonies also took place there. Foreign ambassadors and results of Divan meetings were presented to the sultan in this chamber.

In the middle of the courtyard is the library of Sultan Ahmet III. On the right is a section where sultans’ costumes are shown. Next to this is the treasury section where many precious objects are displayed. Among these the Kaşıkçı Diamond (the Spoonmaker’s Diamond) and the Topkapı Hançeri (the Topkapı Dagger) are the most precious.

The holy relics are personal belongings of the Prophet Mohammed (a mantle, sword, seal, tooth, beard and footprints) and Caliphs, Koran scripts, religious books and framed inscriptions. Relics including a hand, arm and skull bones belonging to John the Baptist are also on display in this section.

In the fourth courtyard there are pavilions facing the Marmara Sea and others facing the Golden Horn. Among them are the Baghdad Pavilion and the Revan Pavilions built by Sultan Murat IV in the 17C to commemorate his victories in these two cities of Iran.

The Harem

The concept of the Harem has provoked much speculation. Curiosity about the unknown and inaccessible inspired highly imaginative literature among the people of the western world.

Harem in the Topkapi Palace

The word Harem which in Arabic means “forbidden” refers to the private sector of a Moslem household in which women live and work; the term is also used for women dwelling there. In traditional Moslem society the privacy of the household was universally observed and respectable women did not socialize with men to whom they were not married or related. Because the establishment of a formal Harem was an expense beyond the means of the poor, the practice was limited to elite groups, usually in urban settings. Since Islamic law allowed Moslems to have a maximum of four wives, in a Harem there would be up to four wives and numerous concubines and servants. Having a harem, in general, was traditionally a mark of wealth and power. Though the women of the harems might never leave its confines, their influence was frequently of key importance to political and economic affairs of the household, with each woman seeking to promote the interests of her own children. The most famous harems were those of the sultans.

The harem was not a prison full of women kept for the sultan’s pleasure. It was his family quarters. This was the place where the dynasty lived.

Girls in the Harem were trained according to their talents in playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, writing, embroidery and sewing. Many parents longed for their daughters to be chosen for the Harem. Women could visit their families or just go for drives in covered carriages from which they could see out behind the veils and curtained windows. They could also organize parties up on the Bosphorus or along the Golden Horn.

When a Sultan died, the new sultan would bring his new harem which meant that the former harem was dispersed. Some were sent to the old palace, some stayed as teachers, or some older ones were pensioned off.

Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)

During the Byzantine period the area of the Grand Bazaar was a trade center. After the Turks came to İstanbul, two bedestens formed the essence of today’s Grand Bazaar. They were built by Sultan Mehmet II between 1455-1461 in an attempt to enrich the economic life in the city. Later on, as people needed more places for their trade, they also added parts outside these bedestens. In time the Grand Bazaar was formed.

Grand Bazaar

Throughout the Ottoman period, the bazaar underwent earthquakes and fires and was restored several times. Today, shops selling the same kind of merchandise tend to be congregated together on their own streets or hans, as this was originally the Ottoman system. In addition to two bedestens there are also 13 hans in the Grand Bazaar. With 18 entrances and more than four thousand shops, it is one of the greatest bazaars in the World. The atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar is very interesting for tourists and has consequently become a very popular place for foreign visitors.

Copyright © Serif Yenen – Turkey Travel Specialist (

Unique Experiences: Don’t leave without experiencing a Turkish Bath: Hamam

Cagaloglu Hamam. Photo by elvedon

In a Turkish hamam there are either two separate sections for each of the sexes or different days and hours allocated to men and women.

When you enter the first section or the changing area of a hamam you begin by taking off your clothes and putting on a “peştemal”, which is a piece of striped cotton cloth. This is wrapped around the midriff and tucked into place. Some people choose to wear their bathing suits underneath or instead of the “peştemal”. A type of wooden clog, called “nalın”, is worn on the feet. They will help you not to slip on the wet marble surface.

Dressed in “peştemal” and clogs, you go to the next room where a “göbek taşı” (navel stone), a marble heated table, is situated in the middle. Marble sinks and taps all around the walls surround the room. Here, you sit next to one of these sinks and start pouring lukewarm water over yourself with a hamam tası (bowl). You keep pouring water until your skin softens, meanwhile increasing the temperature of the water as your body gets used to it.

The hamam attendant, tellak, will take you to the “göbek taşı” when your skin is ready and start rubbing your body with a special glove, kese. Tiny black pieces will get rubbed off your body that most people think is dirt. This is in fact the top layer of dead skin. At this stage a short massage is optional. Next, the tellak will give you a soapy rub down and wash you with water in decreasing temperature in order to make your pores close. He will then wrap you in towels.

Now it is time to go back to the lukewarm section to cool your body gradually while you lie down and drink tea in the traditional tiny glasses. Staying too long in the bath or moving to the hot or cold rooms without spending enough time in the lukewarm section is harmful for the body. Otherwise the whole hamam experience is something very healthy and cures lots of diseases.

10 Best Meat and Kebap Restaurants in İstanbul

Here is my list for the best meat & kebap restaurants in Istanbul. Please share your experiences and I would love to receive your “ten best list”.

1. Beyti ($$)

Address: Orman Sk. No: 8, Florya
Phone: +90 (212) 663 2990 – 92

2. Develi ($$)

Address: Balık Pazarı, Gümüşyüzük Sk. No: 7, Samatya
Phone: +90 (212) 529 0833

3. Günaydın Et ($$)

Address: Kasaplar Çarşısı No: 10, Bostancı
Phone: +90 (216) 417 9209
Address: Bağdat Cad. No:493/1, Suadiye
Phone: +90 (216) 445 6338
Address: Atatürk Cad. No:64, Sahrayıcedid
Phone: +90 (216) 411 6875

4. Hamdi ($$)

Address: Tahmis Cad. Kalçın Sk. No: 17, Eminönü
Phone: +90 (212) 528 0390

5. Komşu Kebap ($$)

Address: Valikonağı Cad. Işık Apt., No: 8/B, Nişantaşı
Phone: +90 (212) 224 9666

6. Köşebaşı ($$)

Address: Çamlık Sk. No:15, 3. Levent
Phone: +90 (212) 270 2433

7. Musa Usta ($)

Address: İstiklal Cad., Küçükparmakkapı Sk., Beyoğlu
Phone: +90 (212) 245 2932

8. Sultanahmet Köftesi ($; no alcohol)

Address: Divanyolu Cad. No: 12, Sultanahmet
Phone: +90 (212) 520 0566

9. Tike ($$)

Address: Hacı Adil Cad. 4. Aralık, 2. Levent
Phone: +90 (212) 281 8871

10. Çiya ($; no alcohol)

Address: Güneşli Bahçe Sk. No: 43, Kadıköy
Phone: +90 (216) 330 3190

Special dishes from Turkish cuisine: Kebaps

What is Kebap?

Kebap is roasted, broiled or grilled meat prepared in many different ways, each of them named by adding a word to kebap; döner kebap, shish (şiş) kebap, patlıcan kebap, etc.

Shish (şiş) Kebap is cubes of marinated chicken or lamb meat on skewers. Meat on skewers is grilled in a barbecue.

Photo by korayatasoy

Adana Kebap is barbecued spicy meat mounted on a wide skewer. This is ground lamb meat that is mixed with fat from lamb’s tail.

Photo by chowdownphoenix

Urfa Kebap is very similar to Adana Kebap but it is not spicy.

Photo by zerrincd

Köfte is grilled or fried meatballs.

Photo by Andra MB

Döner Kebap is lamb meat roasted on a revolving spit.

Photo by CescoCesco

Photo by CescoCesco

Where do you eat kebap?

You eat kebaps at kebapçı. Kebapçı is the place where kebaps are sold. It is a kebap restaurant.

Unique Experiences: Don’t leave without observing a Sema Ritual by Whirling Dervishes

Whirling Dervishes. Photo by Teobius

The Sema is a 700-year-old ritual or a rite of communal recitation which combines the poetry of Rumi, Turkish classical music, chanting from the Koran and the whirling of the dervishes.

It was traditionally performed in the semahane. This was the name given to the place where it was held. It symbolized the attainment of the various levels of mystical union with God and of absolute perfection through spiritual fervor.

The whirling dervish is the icon of the Mevlevi order of Sufism, a branch of Islam that is based on the teachings of the mystic poet Rumi. In addition to the fasting, praying and study of the Koran that marks the typical practice of Islam, a Sufi partakes in zikir, or “rememberence”, extra practices of which the whirling ritual is the most important.

Detail from Yesil Turbe (Green Minaret). Photo by alelade

The sheik is the representative of Mevlana on earth. From the sheik’s animal skin garment extends an imaginary line across the floor of the chamber which is regarded as the cosmic guide to the ultimate truth.

The dervish wears a white coat over a long white skirt, which represents his burial garment. These are covered by a black cloak, which represents his tomb or worldly attachments. The conical brown or white felt hat represents his tombstone. There may be a small difference in the sheik’s clothing. The ritual starts with a communal recitation followed by a recital of the flute. Wailing of the flute expresses longing for the ultimate. They let fall their black cloaks to symbolize their escape from the tomb and readiness for God.

Before beginning to whirl, the dervishes bow to the sheik. They bow to one another and move in three rotations to symbolize resurrection and spiritual rebirth. Then they begin to turn slowly. Right arms are above the body palm facing upward whereas left hands face downward. This symbolizes that what they get from God’s grace and blessing, they pass on to the world.

The dervishes begin to move faster and faster to summon the divine. According to Mevlana, with the Sema, dervishes can reach out and touch the “ultimate”. Dervishes claim that repeating the Islamic name of God (Allah, Allah, Allah) with every revolution reminds the semazen (whirling dervish) of the Rumi tenet: “Wherever you turn is God”. It is this that keeps them from getting dizzy, losing their balance or knocking into one another.

It takes at least a year for a dervish to learn how to whirl. The dervishes are everyday people; students, workers, professors, etc. They can have families too.

Is this a mystic order?

Yes, the Mevlevi order of whirling dervishes is a mystic group whose members are followers of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, a great Turkish poet and mystic.

The brotherhood is based in Konya, where its founder is buried. Mevlana was never the head of an order, and the brotherhood was not established by himself but by his followers and devoted companions. The order derived its essence, rites, moral code and discipline from the mystical path first shown by Mevlana. It was a synthesis of spiritual love attained by a combination of music and whirling which was considered to be the basic requirement for the spiritual devotion.

Who is Rumi?

In the western world he is commonly known with his last name, “Rumi“. His full name is “Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi”, and in Turkey he is rather known with his first name, “Mevlana”.

Mevlana was born in 1207 in Balkh, Afghanistan. His father, Bahaeddin Veled, was a distinguished teacher who, because of his great learning, had been honored with the title of Lord of Scholars.

Possibly because of the threat imposed by the approaching Mongolian armies, Bahaeddin decided to take his family away from Balkh. They went to several places and after staying here and there, Bahaeddin felt drawn to Anatolia and came to Karaman in 1221. There they stayed for 7 years and Mevlana was married in 1225.

Alaattin Keykubat, the ruler of Konya, implored him to come to Konya. Bahaeddin finally acceded to the sultan’s request in 1228 and he taught in Konya until his death in 1231. Mevlana took his father’s place and quickly established a reputation for scholarship. He had an extensive understanding of all aspects of philosophy and was an avid reader of the works of classical authors.

One day in 1244, he met a ragged dervish who asked him a number of searching questions. This was the man known as Shams Tabrizi. Shams and Mevlana quickly became close friends and spent days and weeks closeted together in philosophical discussion.

Mevlana left his teaching and appeared rarely in public. This caused jealousy and anger among his students and friends who believed that he had been bewitched by an evil sorcerer. In 1246 Shams disappeared as suddenly and as mysteriously as he had appeared. Mevlana became crazy and wrote poems about the separation of Shams.

After long inquiries he finally learned that Shams was in Damascus. He wrote him letters begging him to return. Shams returned and their friendship and discussions resumed. In order to draw him more into his family, Mevlana offered his adopted daughter to Shams in marriage. However, one night in 1247, Shams disappeared for good. He was most probably murdered by his enemies.

Mevlana could not be comforted. He gave himself again to writing poetry about Shams. This time it was Husameddin Celebi who helped him to continue his philosophical speculations. He inspired him to write his greatest work, the “Mesnevi”. It was a collection of 25,600 poems in 6 volumes.

In 1273, Mevlana became sick and people around him knew that he was dying and they cried in sorrow. He told his friends that death was union with God and he was longing for this union. Finally he died on December 17, 1273, was buried in Konya, and a tomb was built upon his sarcophagus.

How about Rumi’s views and his philosophy?

Page from Mesnevi. Photo by israphil

Mevlana was not a man of reason, he was on the contrary a man of love and affection. His aim was unification with God. According to him God could not fit into the universe but fit into the heart. Therefore we have to tend to the heart and not to reason.

“Come, come again, whoever, whatever you may be, come:
Heathen, fire-worshipper, sinful of idolatry, come.
Come even if you have broken your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is not the portal of despair and misery, come.”

Instead of dealing with scholars of the time, Mevlana tended towards simple people like Hüsameddin Çelebi who was regarded as ignorant by others. According to Mevlana, a scholar was like a person carrying a big sack of bread on his shoulder. But, he asked, what was the maximum number of loaves they could eat?

Sufi Group of İstanbul Galata Mevlevi Lodge
Hodjapasha Art & Culture Center
212 – 511 4626
212 – 511 4636

Galata Mevlevi Music & Sema Ensemble
505 – 678 0618
535 – 210 4565

Wines of Turkey, One of the Earliest Places for Wine

Cappadocia vineyard. Photo by Yannick Garcin

Turkey is one of the oldest lands for cultivating the grapevine for wine. The history of wine production in Anatolia dates back to 4500 years ago, to the Bronze Age. The Hittites were the first people to make laws and regulations about viticulture and wine making. The Euphrates and Tigris Rivers were used to carry wines of Eastern Turkey to the Assyrian and Sumerian lands.

In the tumulus type grave of King Midas of the Phrygians who ruled in the 8C BC, the remains of wine and bread were discovered.

The biggest temples dedicated to Dionysus, God of wine, were in the Aegean Region of Turkey.

Bozcaada wines. Photo by Volkan Çelik

What is the current situation?

Turkey is the fourth largest producer of grapes in the world; however, the majority of these grapes are used to eat and in producing raisins instead of producing wine. Only 2% is used for wine.

Turkey is divided into 5 regions for wine production. The brands that I list below are among the recommended wines and have been chosen from those most readily available in Turkey.

Recommended wines of Turkey
by Murat Yankı, wine specialist

(A) Average (AA) Above Average (AAA) Much Above Average

Marmara Region (Around the Marmara Sea)

  • Local red grapes: Papazkarası and Adakarası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Gamay
  • Local white grapes: Vasilaki and Çavuş
  • International white grapes: Semillon

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Sarafin Merlot (AAA), Doluca Antik (AA), DLC Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot (AA), Kavaklıdere Angora (A)
  • White: Sarafin Chardonnay (AAA), Doluca Antik (AA) and Villa Doluca (A)

Aegean Region (Western Anatolia)

  • Local red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Syrah
  • Local white grapes: Misket and Sultaniye
  • International white grapes: Chardonnay

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Sevilen Syrah (AA), Sevilen Majestik (A) and DLC Syrah (AA)
  • White: Kavaklıdere Angora (A), Doluca DLC Sultaniye-Emir (AA) and Sevilen Chardonnay (AA)
  • Rose: Sevilen R. (A)

Pamukkale Region (Inner Aegean)

  • Local red grapes: Çalkarası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
  • International white grapes: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Anfora Cabernet Sauvignon (AA), Anfora Syrah (AA)
  • White: Anfora Senfoni (A), Anfora Chardonnay (A)
  • Rose: Kavaklıdere Lal (A)

Central Anatolia (Ankara, Cappadocia and Tokat )

  • Local red grapes: Kalecik Karası
  • International red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
  • Local white grapes: Emir (from Cappadocia), Narince (from Tokat)

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Kavaklıdere Ancyra (AA), DLC Kalecik Karası (AA)
  • White: Doluca Nevflah (A), Kavaklıdere Çankaya (A), Kavaklıdere Narince (AAA)

Eastern Turkey (Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in North Mesopotamia)

Although there is no white wine production in this region, the red wines are among the best-bodied wines of Turkey.

  • Local red grapes: Boğazkere, Öküzgözü

Recommended Wines:

  • Red: Terra Öküzgözü-Boğazkere (AA), Kavaklıdere Yakut (A), Doluca Kav (AA)
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